By Debi Johnson
In 2014 the Dept. of Health and Human Services, under the Obama administration, proposed a rule requiring "that same-sex spouses are recognized and afforded equal rights in certain Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities." Those facilities, as The Advocate reports, are "long-term care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, which most do."
But under the Trump administration, HHS has decided to reject that proposed rule, claiming that the Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell ruling makes it unnecessary.
The proposed rule to protect same-sex spouses was drawn in part to ensure anti-LGBT state laws and policies were not used to discriminate against same-sex couples.
"Specifically," the Trump administration admits, the proposed rule was "to revise certain definitions and patient’s rights provisions that currently defer to state law, in order to ensure that same-sex spouses are recognized and afforded equal rights."
But as we know, the fight for LGBT equality is far from over.
In fact, today, the state of Mississippi's discriminatory law legalizing discrimination against LGBT people on religious or moral grounds goes into effect.
And last month, the ACLU announced it is suing the state of Michigan over its discriminatory adoption laws.
The HHS proposed rule would cost the federal government exactly nothing to implement, and likely would clear up any confusion.
But under President Donald Trump, this administration has rescinded guidance protecting the civil rights of transgender children, and announced transgender service members are a detriment to the U.S. armed forces and should be discharged.
This month alone the Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era policy that protects transgender workers from discrimination, instituted a sweeping rollback of the Obama-era contraception mandate – which absolutely affects LGBT people – and instituted an extraordinary policy reversal prioritizing the rights of people of faith over the rights of LGBT people.
Of course, there was Trump's refusal to issue a proclamation for LGBT Pride Month, and the fact that nearly every single one of his cabinet appointees are strongly anti-LGBT has not gone unnoticed.
Trump's HHS refusing to protect senior same-sex couples is just one more in his long line of attacks against the LGBT community.